Access to a computer offers improved opportunities for motion-impaired operators in vocational settings, for communication, and leisure activities. The use of a pointing device can be a challenge for many computer users with physical impairments. According to Hwang et al. symptoms such as tremor, spasm, muscle weakness, partial paralysis, or poor coordination can make standard pointing devices difficult, if not impossible, to use . Haptic assistance is an emerging field of research that is concerned with aiding the operator with pointing device operations. This is achieved by improving targeting times and reducing error rates through the use of force feedback.
Haptic feedback has previously been investigated to assist motion-impaired computer users, however, limitations of previous 2DOF haptic target acquisition techniques such as gravity wells and high-friction-targets have hampered progress. Previous research has shown that these techniques may be able to improve clicking accuracy and throughput but they have inherent flaws when integrated with existing interfaces, such as target distracters. A target distraction occurs when the cursor has to pass through undesired haptic cues before reaching the destination. The majority of GUI's often have icons arranged in rows or columns and so there will often be many target distracters that lie along the task axis.
Our research aims to utilise the 3DOF capabilities of the Phantom Omni to produce assistance that is designed specifically for motion-impaired computer users to operate with existing user interfaces. This concerns producing techniques that will aid cursor navigation and target selection in realistic interfaces without the limitations of traditional haptic assistance. The project is in collaboration with with a user group at the Norfolk and Norwich Scope Association (NANSA), which is a local voluntary organisation, formed in 1954 to offer support for Norfolk people with cerebral palsy and associated disabilities.
The Haptic Workbox Demo
- Hwang, F., Langdon, P. Keates, S., and Clarkson, J., The effect of multiple haptic distractors on the performance of motion-impaired users, in 6th ERCIM Workshop, Italy, 2003, pp. 14–25.
- Asque, C.T., Day, A.M. and Laycock, S.D., Haptic Assisted Target Acquisition in a visual point-and-click task for computer users with motion-impairments, IEEE Transactions on Haptics, 5(2), 2012, 120-130.
- Asque, C.T., Day, A.M. and Laycock, S.D., Cursor Navigation using Haptics for Motion-Impaired Computer Users, Haptics: Perception, Devices, Mobility and Communication, Lecture Notes in Computer Science (Eurohaptics Proceedings), 2012, 13-24